The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #115745   Message #2480820
Posted By: Jack Campin
31-Oct-08 - 09:47 AM
Thread Name: Why Only 7 letter names?
Subject: RE: Why Only 7 letter names?
That "musical scale" page is interesting but has very little to say about actual music history. It vastly overstates the importance of the Pythagorean tuning system - most European, Indian and Middle Eastern music until the Middle Ages developed without reference to it. It still isn't very relevant to Indian music, which also uses seven-note scales, but selects them from an unequally tempered 22-note "chromatic" pitch set. (They don't use an explicit word for "sharp" or "flat" - the actual pitch of a note is specified by saying what raga you're in).

I love the traditional Indian account of the note names, as described in H.T. Popley's book. High to low:

- Shadja - the sound of the peacock in its highest rapture
- Rishabha - the sound of a cow calling her calf
- Gandhara - the bleat of a goat
- Madhyama - the cry of a heron (or the sound of falling water, the noise of forest, or the buzz of a city)
- Panchama - the note of the Indian nightingale
- Dhaivata - the neigh of the horse
- Nishadha - the trumpeting of the elephant